FILE - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

(The Center Square) – Facing nearly $9 billion in deficits through fiscal 2023, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is looking to cut state government expenses to help fill the gap.

Inslee on Wednesday canceled a scheduled 3 percent pay raise for many of the state’s highest-paid employees, and he said most state employees would begin to take unpaid furlough days off.

While most rank-and-file employees will still receive the pay hike effective July 1, director level staff and exempt employees who earn more than $53,000 annually – about 5,600 staffers – will not.

More than 40,000 state workers will be required to take one unpaid furlough day off per week through July 25. Employees then will be required to take one furlough day per month into the fall.

The two steps will cut the state's budget by about $55 million.

“These are very difficult decisions, but they are necessary to address the financial shortfall that we are facing,” Inslee said. “Everyday state employees serve the people of Washington with dedication, and these actions do not reflect on that commitment or quality of their work. In this current financial situation, everyone needs to make sacrifices and we know this will not be easy. I know that our state will come out of these difficult times stronger than ever.”

The state projects an $8.8 billion deficit through 2023 as a result of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Inslee encouraged state agencies not under his authority to follow his lead.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.